Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Showing interest and the desire to understand your teen's feelings lets him or her know you care. You may not understand why your teen feels hopeless or why he or she has a sense of loss or failure. Listen to your teen without judging and try to put yourself in his or her position. Help build your teen's self-esteem by recognizing small successes and offering praise about his or her competence.

Encourage your teen to:

  • Make and keep healthy friendships. Positive relationships can help boost your teen's confidence and stay connected with others. Encourage your teen to avoid relationships with people whose attitudes or behaviors could make depression worse.
  • Stay active. Participation in sports, school activities or a job can help keep your teen focused on positive things, rather than negative feelings or behaviors.
  • Ask for help. Teens may be reluctant to seek support when life seems overwhelming. Encourage your teen to talk to a family member or other trusted adult whenever needed.
  • Have realistic expectations. Many teens judge themselves when they aren't able to live up to unrealistic standards — academically, in athletics or in appearance, for example. Let your teen know that it's OK not to be perfect.
  • Simplify life. Encourage your teen to carefully choose obligations and commitments, and set reasonable goals. Let your teen know that it's OK to do less when he or she feels down.
  • Structure time. Help your teen plan activities by making lists or using a planner to stay organized.
  • Encourage your teen to keep a private journal. Journaling may help improve mood by allowing your teen to express and work through pain, anger, fear or other emotions.
  • Connect with other teens who struggle with depression. Talking with other teens facing similar challenges can help your teen cope. So can learning skills to manage life's challenges. Local support groups for depression are available in many communities. And support groups for depression are offered online, but check them out to make sure they're credible and trustworthy sites. Good places to start are the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
  • Stay healthy. Do your part to make sure your teen eats regular, healthy meals, gets regular exercise and gets plenty of sleep.
Nov. 07, 2012